Northern Delights

When I told a friend I was tasting white wines from Washington State, he innocently asked me if they were made of apples. Looks like the Pacific Northwest has some work to do in changing public perception. Actually though, the best Washington white wines do have certain elements of orchard fruit about them. The northern latitude and long days of cold sunlight make Washington whites notably clean, fresh, and brightly, energetically acidic, bringing to mind the great whites of other northern regions, such as Germany. They’re also wildly underpriced, probably due to some confusion in the marketplace. But if you want an insider tip to help you drink better and cheaper this year, here’s one: When you hear Washington, forget about the apples.

Columbia Crest

Moscato Grand Estates, 2010
Low alcohol content (10.5 percent) and a big juicy bouquet of apricots, roses, and honeydew make this the yummiest wine of summer—when it gets here. Until then, pair this slightly sparkling charmer with brunch, cheese and fruit, and big summer planning sessions. Find it: Surdyk’s Liquor, 303 E. Hennepin Ave.,”¯Mpls., 612-379-3232 ($12)

Chateau Ste. Michelle Eroica Riesling, 2010

Stately, well-composed, energetic, nectarine-scented, and widely available, Eroica is one of the United States’ rarest commodities: a reliable, good wine easily found in restaurants and wine shops from Orono to Omaha. Pair it with complicated fusion appetizers (wasabi foam is tamed!) or classical European fare (poached squab is flattered!) and serve it at client dinners for a truly happy life. Find it: Haskell’s, 4130 Berkshire Ln. N., Plymouth, 763-553-9198 ($22)

Dusted Valley Pinot Gris Boomtown, 2010

Crisp and zippy acidity twines its way around notes of peach and hazelnut in this terrific table wine, one that seems to hold a glimpse of greatness at its affordable core while bigger dimensions are traced with tart and pear-tinted lines. Find it: Top Ten Wine & Spirits, 9987 Norma Ln., Woodbury, 651-501-1199 ($15)

K Vintners Columbia Valley Viognier, 2010

Floral yet not flopsy, wine-world rock star Charles Smith has pulled off a neat trick with this Viognier. It’s delicate and fine, with distinct red-apple and apricot aromas and a lacy acidity. Find it: France 44, 4351 France Ave. S., Mpls., 612-925-3252, ($30)

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